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Practical Applications

This past week I’ve found myself considering the idea of hospitality. The idea came up following both the announcement of courses in homemaking offered in Southern seminaries this fall as well as the responses to a blog post I wrote on the matter. The question of hospitality as an exclusively feminine endeavor aside, I have had reason to look at hospitality as a charge to all Christians—an often-difficult way to follow up love with service. I found myself reminded of Luke 14:12-14, where Jesus says “when you give a feast” to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Jesus recommends giving in a way that expects nothing in r... Read more
One reason that questions about men and women continue to confound us, I’m convinced, is that we’re asking the wrong questions, which tend to lead us to inadequate answers. So in an effort to un-confound things, I offer the following tweaked questions (TQ) so we can move toward answers that are more effective in addressing our concerns. Q: How can a woman adequately balance work and family? TQ: It’s difficult, but then it’s also difficult for a man to balance them both. How does he do it? Q: Typically by having a spouse who helps him reach his career goals and who will be there for the children when he is overwhelmed at work. TQ: Wouldn’t that also help a woman – having a spouse who helps her reach career goals while stepping up inv... Read more
Dating Violence Defined According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.1 Anyone can be a victim of dating violence. Both boys and girls are victims, but boys and girls abuse their partners in different ways. Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick. Boys injure girls more and are more likely to punch their partner and force them to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Some teen victims experience physical violence only occasionally; others, more often.2 Warning Signs Here are some common warning signs that may indicate a teen girl or teen boy is in a... Read more
Does anybody remember those big apple-green lapel pins, “I am a simple, Bible-believing Christian feminist?” I still have mine in my jewelry drawer, a seventies souvenir. If I wore it today on my Christian college campus, I suspect my fellow academics would look askance at such a retrograde claim, labeling “feminist” as yesterday’s word, a matter of beating a dead horse. If I wore it to my Episcopal church, my fellow congregants would be surprised, because to them, “Bible-believing” means anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-marriage equality. In her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg tells of being evasive in her early career when asked if she was a feminist. Today, as COO of Facebook and a millionaire many times ov... Read more
Who are you? Before you read any further, stop and write down about 5 words or phrases that describe who you are. Finished?    Read on! Social psychologists tell us that (in the United States, anyway) when asked for self-descriptors, men tend to select words or phrases that show their independence from others, for instance the abilities or attributes that make them unique. They might list things like lawyer, jogger, guitarist, or someone with a great sense of humor. Women, they tell us, tend to describe themselves with words or phrases that show their relationship to others. They often list words such as wife, mother, friend, or choir member. Not surprising, I suppose, given that women are often socialized to think in terms of their contributions to relationships a... Read more
Two weeks ago, John began studying the revolution in relational thinking that Paul presents in Colossians 3. Last week, he considered God’s call to mutual relationships. This week, John will explore relationships through the lens of service and discipleship. Service This command of mutuality leads us to a second feature that we find in this passage. Paul’s emphasis throughout his instructions is not on authority in relationships or on rights, but on serving. He does not give permission to a husband to go to his wife and tell her, “It’s your duty to submit to me,” or to parents to demand obedience from their children. Instead, he tells husbands to love their wives. The term he uses is agapao, that wonderful word denoting a love that gives itself... Read more
When our daughter and son were born, my husband and I tried to encourage gender equality through the books and TV programs to which they were exposed.  While it was difficult at times, I was stunned when I realized that The Wizard of Oz runs counter to all of the gendered expectations other children’s stories seem to promote. Think about it: every person in the Wizard of Oz who has any power at all is female. 1)      Dorothy is the undisputed leader of an unlikely male trio: the lion, the tin man, and the scarecrow. 2)      The two witches have power respected by male and female characters alike: one used for good, one for evil. 3)      While we are led to believe throughout that the Wizard (a... Read more
The summer issue of Mutuality is out the door! This issue’s “join the conversation” article focuses on gender stereotypes in marriage, cast in the light of Proverbs 31. Daniel Fan talks about his experience as a man who has lately found his own story strikingly similar to the Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31 Man: Walking in the footsteps of the Proverbs 31 woman… as a man Maybe the biblical character you best connect with is Daniel in the lion’s den, or Mary when the stone was rolled away. Sometimes we connect with the well-known figures we would have chosen for ourselves. But sometimes Creator appoints us to walk in the company of stranger biblical fellows—companions we would not have chosen, but who enrich our lives even so. This is t... Read more
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…” This prayer challenges us to live into the gospel and make it real for our own day. In the case of domestic violence, this may mean finding ways that local churches and people of faith can do something that will gently and persistently shape the way members view and respond to issues of intimate partner abuse, whether it be in the community or inside the house of faith. Here is a list of practical immediate ways to make your church a “Safe House.” Always assume that there are persons in your church who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Be aware of subtle messages in your church that promote the assumption that “everyone here is okay and every marriage and relationship is healthy.... Read more
"Do something outside the norms of your own gender.” Those were the instructions for students beginning a gender studies course at the small liberal arts college where I teach. “Notice the reactions of those around you, ” I added. I was unprepared for the creative ways my students completed this assignment. One female student parked in the lot of a local department store, opened the hood, and began looking for “the problem.” She assured each would-be helper that while she appreciated their offers she had it under control. Most believed her; one argued the point. One male student paid for his purchases at a local store out of the purse he was carrying, handing the cashier the money with perfectly polished fingernails. The cashier refused to make e... Read more